As I peered through the gap left by a rotten railroad tie, the lazy waters of Deer Creek swirled and eddied some 60 feet below. While heights don’t usually bother me, there’s something about rotting wood and a nearly-collapsed foundation that makes every step a little shaky. Such is the Monon High Bridge.
Why do you care about the Monon High Bridge?
Built in 1891 as part of CSX’s railroad from Louisville to Chicago and abandoned in 1987, I came across the Monon High Bridge as I do most of my interesting adventures: purely by chance and lured into it by the promise of free wine.
I happened to visit an exhibition put on by Indiana Landmark during Indianapolis’ First Friday. The show featured the organization’s yearly 10 Most Endangered, a list of the most critically endangered landmarks across Indiana. The Monon High Bridge in Delphi made the list this year due to badly eroded foundations and the threat of destruction by the railroad company.
Deciding I couldn’t let the chance to see this nerve-making piece of history slip through my hands, the husband and I headed an hour north to the sleepy town of Delphi. The town itself is probably worth a quick visit, eminently charming in that small-town way, but we were racing an oncoming storm so didn’t see much of it.
(It is, as we found out in the locally-owned grocery store, a town where everyone truly does know everyone.)
How to find the Monon High Bridge
… Because take it from me, the internet is not super helpful about find it.
The town of Delphi has a great system of trails throughout the city where you can park and walk; however, the closest access point to the bridge is outside of town on country road W 300 North. See the approximate location of the “parking area” here.
We wandered down the short path (built after the decomissioned railroad had been removed) and arrived at the bridge within minutes. The grand scheme is to turn the bridge into the highlight of the current trail but as it stands now, the bridge is a rickety, nerve-wracking piece of history that seems to be hanging on by a thread.
We crossed onto the first third of the bridge – the rest was simply too dilapidated to trust – admiring the views of the quiet countryside. It seems sad and unfair that Indiana might lose such a gorgeous part of its history if things aren’t changed quickly enough.
Luckily, help might be on the way and you might be able to walk the bridge (safely) the next time you’re in Indiana.
Are you a fan of this kind of extreme tourism or do you like to keep your feet planted firmly on the ground while you travel?